Attack of the Grab-grass-people and the Yard Nazis
One day I was watching TV when an ad came on by a nursery telling me how to prevent crabgrass. This was an urgent problem because, as the young lady said, “crabgrass can spread quickly if you don’t act fast to kill it.”
To me crabgrass looks like other grass except it has wide leaves and crawls on the ground. If it is such a problem to get rid of, it must be a tough as other grass that we walk on. I got to thinking of all the wars, poverty in the third world, poverty in our world, our economic troubles, people without jobs and then wondered—“who has time to worry that their grass is not the acceptable for their neighbors to see?” And yet people will complain if your yard has too many weeds or the wrong kind of grass. I have a friend who calls them the “Yard Nazis.” I just call them “crab-grass-people” because they have this intense fear of crabgrass and apparently no real worries to get upset about.
Dee Brown, in her Book on Native American Indians, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, points out some where that the Native Indians noticed that White people hate nature. Yes they do. As I deal with my new neighbors I can easily get that feeling. This was a little neighborhood with an actual downtown, a few stores and a local “Kwik-E-Mart” as they say on the Simpsons. They have been replaced by larger mega-stores.
When I look around today, I see large houses for the middle class and McMansions that look really expensive, but also they are all the same as if stamped out of a factory mould. Even the colors seem uniform. They very from off-white, to grey or greyish-green.
In the film Crumb, 1994, Robert Crumb explains a series of cartoons that show a natural surrounding. Then, frame by frame, civilization takes over and by the last frame there are buildings, fences and lots of electric wires on telephone poles. He explains that we have created all this clutter and we just learn to ignore it all.
Indeed, as we progress, we make use of roads, electric poles and rely on gasoline stations to refill us. Gas and electric meters are found on every home lot and no one really seems to notice how they look. But there is more. We need lights and lots of them. Mostly we are afraid of burglars or other criminals using the cover of darkness to do something harmful to our estates. Businesses, such as Kwik Shop, needs to attract people from the highway so they have what a friend of mine called “airport runway lights” that can be seen for miles around.
At one time I could see the stars and planets in my back yard. I grew a lot of trees to provide my yard some privacy. In the dark part of my back yard I could see the stars. Now I can only see the very brightest. I once took this woman I knew to a party at my brother’s old house in the country. She could not believe all the stars in the sky that can be seen out in the country.
There are fine cut lawns in the suburbs. No one wants their grass more than six inches high and a person can get fined for letting such a thing happen. I was once told that people started cutting grass thousands of years ago to prevent their enemies from sneaking up on them. If I ask people today, what short grass protects us from, they will say rats or even snakes. So the fine looking lawns are a product of our fear of nature’s dangerous beasts. Snakes are probably the most fearsome animals to white people. In Maize we have an ordinance that says a person can’t have a piece of property where snakes can live. There aren’t many snakes in Maize and the only place to find them would be a place where rats live. Rats are banned in the ordinance also, but who ever wrote it up did not consider that snakes eat rats. And poisones snakes in Sedgwick County, where I live, are extremely rare. Snakes are rare now also.
The suburbs and businesses of Wichita are now right up to the city border of Maize. A Waterfowl Preserve, that was privately owned, is supposed to be moved to make way for more development. Wichita builds mega marts that take up almost a square mile and carry everything from hardware to food items. No one there working at minimum wage can really specialize in explaining all this junk they sell, but we just put up with it because the county planning commission decides this is the way to go and to hell with those who disagree.
When I was a child I often took walks in the woods, nearby. We build small forts of sticks and tree houses as children. Later we swam and fished the farm pounds that were near our house. Today, those ponds are surrounded with homes and “no trespassing” signs. I wonder how many children today spend any time in wooded areas. Between sports, computer games and social networking, do kids ever really see the wild out-doors near them? In this area, parks are the only place that could happen. Those have to be mowed partly because some joggers fear men hiding in tall grass will grab them. We not only hate nature, we hate each other as well. Some Children probably go with their parents, boating and maybe swimming at the large recreational lakes such as Cheney or the lake in El Dorado State Park. They are artificially made just for summer recreation and large crowds. There are trees and weeds, but the only wild life is in parts of the lake.
Today I get complaints about my yard. Some are understandable if I let the grass go for too long. Others make no sense to me at all. I had a complaint that I had sticks lying around in my yard. I have large trees and falling sticks are a part of that. Why are sticks a problem? I’m not alone. Other home owners I know have had similar complaints, about sticks, a car parked too long in the same place, or certain weeds that, even when cut, offend certain suburbanites.
I used to have a large wooden turtle pen with water turtles, a small fake pound, and some box turtles. We used to see the turtles all over the road in the summer. They are now gone, along with toads which have lost their spring pools to breed in. Opossums are disappearing as they are seen as a nuisance. Also gone are racoons, skunks and we are probably the only people in the neighbourhood who don’t run off rabbits and squirrels. The Native Americans were right. White people hate natural animals. We have an ordinance for the city that pretty much bans local plants (weeds). Again, if it didn’t come from Europe, it doesn’t belong here.
The ponds had plants to clean the water and fish to eat the mosquitoes. One neighbour complained that my ponds stunk up the whole neighbourhood. I found NO-One who could smell that water from more than one foot away. Eventually all the development drove coyotes into the town and my water turtles disappeared one by one. I found plenty of evidence these animals had been there. I left a chicken that was too old for us to eat, but the box turtles might nibble on it. It was completely gone the next day. It had been carried off.
And yes—I am a white man. I just doesn’t hate nature and I spell my name in Khmer.